Do you need to believe in God to have faith? Not necessarily. I think faith is pretty simple and requires no particular religious beliefs. When things are going good, we don’t need faith. It’s when things are falling apart that we want something to hold onto. In the past I’ve used drugs and alcohol and all manner of other stuff as my thing to hold onto. My stability. As the years go by my crutches become subtler and subtler. Crutches are fine. They’re sometimes necessary for a period of time. And if you’re interested in sanity, or freedom, or true happiness – whatever you want to call the Ultimate Thing we’re all after – you say goodbye to what’s been supporting you once you’ve gained the strength to take a step on your own. Faith comes in real handy in the moment of putting down the crutch and taking that first step. Or especially when it feels like someone comes along and knocks the crutch out from under you and then kicks you when you’re down. This is like the golden opportunity. It would be so normal and easy to curl up in a fetal position and become depressed or begin writing in your mind the story of how badly life has treated you. But if faith is chosen in a moment like this… well, I can only speak for myself but it feels like an influx of power.
What does that mean, to “choose faith?” It doesn’t mean to pretend everything’s great, or to lie there and wait for the Angels to swoop down and save you. It’s a vulnerable moment, when the crutch is gone, or things are falling apart. I think faith might have something to do with pausing. Not reacting. That’s the first step. Let everything fall apart for a minute. Don’t close your heart. Don’t strike out. Don’t even try to figure it out. It’s already happening or happened, you can’t put up your hand and stop the flow of the river, God knows I’ve tried and still try. Faith helps you keep breathing. Slowly, in, and out… Until you hear the distant bell ringing. You can only hear it when you’re listening for it. It’s always ringing. It sounds like Truth. There’s something familiar about it. We’ve all heard it, we’ve all loved the music of it, the purity, the clarity, the joy. Faith is like listening for that bell. It’s deciding to trust that the music will be there when we stop to listen.
There may be horrible things happening, truly horrible. The bell keeps ringing through it all. The notes speak of intelligent goodness, the inevitability of love, the constant and pulsating flow always toward balance and wholeness.
May we keep our ears peeled for the truth that is always ringing within. May our faith keep us gently breathing in and out until the notes become clear. And then faith can be dropped, because we Know.